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The Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, in partnership with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, are preparing for the 10th and final year of Plant a Tree at Flight 93! This event coincides with EARTH DAY, National Park Week, and National Volunteer Month.
This year the partnership will achieve the original ten-year goal of planting 150,000 native trees. This conservation memorial's part of the memorial's original design and reclaims the former surface mine with native trees to help re-establish wildlife habitats, create essential windbreaks and complete the healing of the memorial landscape.
Over 500 volunteers will help plant approximately 14,000 seedlings over 20 acres. Since 2012 more than 3,000 volunteer hours have planted various native trees and shrub species over 197 acres. Volunteers are the cornerstone of this significant reforestation project.
This year, the Friends offer a tree-specific set of lessons - What's EATING the Trees? - to celebrate the 150,000 trees planted and educate students about trees' importance to the environment. These lessons, designed for upper elementary and middle school students, discuss invasive species, their effect on the environment where introduced, and possible mitigation methods.
The Hemlock Grove at Flight 93 National Memorial is an integral part of the memorial and part of the crash site of Flight 93. Consisting of Eastern Hemlock trees, the grove is recovering from the jet fuel fire that scorched it 20 years ago. Now, Hemlock Trees are under attack by Wooly Adelgids - an invasive insect that can kill a hemlock tree within 3- to 5-years of infestation.
Bees and birds play a vital role in balancing natural biodiversity. The symbiotic relationship between bees and all flowering plants is what balances our ecosystem. For example, Flight 93 National Memorial is a former surface coal mine. The bees and birds help to restore the memorial grounds and the crash site to their natural state. When Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001, it burned a small hemlock grove located on nearly 40 acres of ground that became the crime scene investigation area. This area is now considered sacred ground and the passengers' and crew members' final resting place. The Pollinator Program will ensure that the natural habitat and ecosystems of the memorial are environmentally restored and will create a living memorial landscape that will continue telling the story of Flight 93 for generations to come.
Several passengers and crew members on United Flight 93 were passionate about the environment, and a handful was traveling for personal trips that involved the outdoors. Alan Beaven was an ardent environmental litigator who prosecuted Clean Water Act violators. Richard Guadagno spent 17 years in environmental protection as a member of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Christine Snyder was an arborist and worked for The Outdoor Circle, Hawaii's oldest non-profit environmental group. Four passengers were traveling to Yosemite National Park (William Cashman, Patrick Driscoll, Donald & Jean Peterman) to hike and enjoy the beauty. Donald Greene was headed to Lake Tahoe for the same reasons. As Flight 93 National Memorial's living memorial landscape is restored, we honor all 40 passengers and crew members.